The Healing Power of Death in Christ

From the Office of Readings for All Souls Day we read from St. Ambrose:

Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life was condemned because of sin to unremitting labor and unbearable sorrow and so began to experience the burden of wretchedness. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.

Our world pushes every day to delay death, or even to “cure” it.  We see signs of this all around us.  Make up and surgery hides old age.  Stores like “Forever 21” promise youthful preservation.  Some with financial resources plan to place their dead bodies in a freezer with the hope of a kind of “resurrection” through technology.

Yet, the mentality behind these efforts sometimes misses one important point.  Life in this world, with all of its blessings, is unbearable.  Everyday we bear the weight of the stain of original sin: concupiscence, anxiety, grief, sickness, etc.  On top of that, we suffer under circumstances outside of ourselves: natural disasters, criminals, dictators, war, financial corruption, etc.

I don’t mean to be a downer here.  And I don’t mean to neglect the blessings God offers us in this world.  I am simply acknowledging what everybody already knows.  This world is not perfect.  It is far from perfect.  It will not be around forever.  And even though some of us live in happiness, this happiness is incomplete.  Also, our incomplete happiness should be further checked by our empathy for those who suffer greatly.

We find our happiness in God alone and in complete union with God.  Complete and eternal union with God is our true home.  So our bodies serve as vessels that carry us through the unpredictable waters of this imperfect world.  Death is the shoreline of the body’s destination.  There we disembark to our true home, if we have navigated according to the directions of our Savior.

If we persevere every day to use our bodies as Christ used His, we will also receive a new body like His.

We not only follow the directions of Christ, we also allow His body to join with ours in the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is our cure, our preservation, our eternal youth.

 

-Fr. Christopher Plant

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